THIS IS DARK NATION
Uncover the truth, struggle for justice, pay the price
Dark Nation is a role-playing game about what you will do to uncover the truth, and the price you are prepared to pay for justice.
Dark Nation uses rules from the Cthulhu Dark game of Lovecraftian horror, but there is nothing supernatural in Dark Nation, the only monsters are people like us, and the System we have created for ourselves.
Dark Nation comes with full rules, seven scenarios and four different Dark Nations to experience.
Dark Nation takes its influences from fiction like the Handmaid’s Tale, SS/GB, The Man in the High Castle, 1984 and Edge of Darkness. Play starts with the players collaboratively describing the System their characters live in, how it sustains itself, and how it exercises control over its subjects.
Characters in Dark Nation are ordinary people, pushed into extraordinary circumstances. Players create characters as a group, agreeing the bonds and secrets that will keep them together in times of stress.
Dark Nation scenarios begin with a simple premise. Something awful has happened. Something so terrible the characters cannot ignore it, and feel compelled to investigate, even if that means putting themselves and their families at risk.
If the Investigators succeed they will face an awful choice. Do they want to punish the guilty, secure redress for the victims or make a lasting change? They can only choose one. If they fail they will disappear into darkness, consumed by the System.
“The thing I was most impressed by was that it created — more than any Cthulhu-themed game I have played — a powerful sense of taking a stand against an all-powerful enemy, and doing something worthwhile even if it meant dooming yourself. “ – Playtest feedback.
Dark Nation builds on the very simple rules for Cthulhu Dark, with conflicts being settled by rolling a few six sided dice. Key mechanics in Dark Nation include
The disillusion die: However awful the system, at the start of play your Investigator believes they can live their life under it. To progress their investigation they will have to put this belief at risk.
As they learn more about the System their disillusion increases, with potentially terrible consequences. Sometimes the only way for them to get their life back is to betray their friends, destroy the evidence they have gathered or numb the pain with drugs and alcohol.
Contacts: Every Investigator in Dark Nation knows at least one person who might be able to help. But everyone has to deal with the System, and someone who helps you today might sell you out tomorrow. Approaching a contact might be the only way to get information, but it also means putting everything you have in the hands of someone you barely know.
Combat: Cthulhu Dark has very few rules for combat. In Dark Nation fighting the agents of the system always ends in disaster. Fight someone else, and there are rules for determining who – if anyone – walks away.
Fail forward: As in Cthulhu Dark investigation rolls will always result in at least a minimal success. The question isn’t will you get to the bottom of the mystery, the question is will you survive doing so?
GUIDANCE FOR ADMINISTRATORS
The Games Master in a game of Dark Nation is called the administrator. In Dark Nation Administrator’s will find :
- A structure for writing dark plots
- An introduction to suitable safety tools for Dark Nation
- Guidance on having the System increase the pressure on investigators, from surveillance and harrasment to torture, imprisonment and disappearance
- Three one page scenarios, each suitable for a full evening’s play
Dark Nation is loaded with themes of repression, discrimination, persecution and state brutality. While it’s up to your group what comes to the table this game is full of strong stuff and can easily lead players off on dark tangents. Playing it is an intense, emotional, memorable and draining experience.
IS THIS A POLITICAL GAME?
In this game you play committed individuals fighting a system of repression in the hope of securing some measure of justice for yourself or others. You know, like social justice warriors do. So yes, it’s political.
Dark Britain flag by Brett Jordan, CC BY 2.0